Story by S.L. Hansen
NORTH PLATTE (SNR) - After 17 years of
planning, praying and fundraising, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton
Parish in North Platte finally has a beautiful church in which
to celebrate Mass, receive the Sacraments, pray, and adore the
On Sunday, Oct. 2, the church will be
dedicated with a special Mass celebrated by Bishop Fabian W.
Bruskewitz. He will be joined by the current pastor, Father Mark
Seiker, former pastor Father Gary Brethour and others.
"It’s been a long process," said Betty
Steffes, one of the parish founders and a member of the building
committee. "It’s like a weight off our shoulders."
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish seems
to have grown slowly out of an ordinary hay field on the
southern side of North Platte. The late Bishop Glennon Flavin
had the land scouted and purchased more than a quarter century
In 1994, current Bishop Fabian
Bruskewitz launched the parish, and Catholics from the area were
happy to attend Mass at a junior college’s meeting room.
Still, they had a vision to create a
real church with a hall and rectory. Parishioners sat down to
create a master plan and started raising money in earnest.
Within a couple years, the parish hall
was constructed, though it was more than a hall. It served as
the sanctuary for Mass, classrooms for religious education and a
reception room for parish dinners.
Ever resourceful, Father Brethour
sought to outfit the building as well as possible with cast-off
items from other churches. He retrieved some statues, a Crucifix
and a beautiful tabernacle from a church in Osceola that was
The pews came from a Baptist church –
kneelers were added by one of the parishioners to make them
suitable for Mass. The School Sisters of Christ the King donated
a set of Stations of the Cross. Diocesan priest Msgr. James
Reinert, who served in New York for years as a United Nations
observer for the Holy See retrieved a statue of Saint Elizabeth
Ann Seton from a parish in New York that had suffered a fire.
In 2001, under the leadership of
Father Thomas Brouillette, the parish built a rectory on the
campus to replace the small house that had been pressed into
service as residence and offices for the pastor about a mile
Now the church itself has been
"We’ve pretty much followed the master
plan in terms of location," said Father Seiker.
The design of the church itself has
evolved a bit over the years, but the one consistent feature is
its traditional shape.
"It’s a cruciform church, which means
it is in the shape of a cross," Father Seiker explained. "It
shows a traditional style of church architecture, and it shows
that this is a building set apart for the worship of God."
Various members of the building
committee agree that the most striking feature of the new church
is probably the stained glass windows.
The windows were salvaged from a
chapel belonging to the Sister Servants of the Holy Spirit of
Perpetual Adoration (Pink Sisters) in Austin, Texas. When the
convent was closed due to structural problems, the windows were
brought to Lincoln with some of the sisters who were moving
Made by Franz Mayer & Co of Munich,
Germany, between 1958 and 1964, there were 18 windows in all,
three of the archangels, and the rest dedicated to the Mysteries
of the Rosary.
"They’re fairly substantial," said
Paul Nordquist, another founding member who serves on the
building committee. "We had them overhauled a little bit,
reworked the leading."
The three archangel windows were
installed in the parish hall, where they will remain. The Rosary
windows became the defining feature in the architecture of the
Father Seiker said the windows are
situated much like they were in the Pink Sister’s chapel.
"The third Glorious Mystery is over
the front door in the choir loft, the other windows are on the
two side walls," he said.
The other windows are arranged in
order, with five spaces left for Luminous Mysteries for the day
in the parish or some benefactor can pay for matching windows to
Founding parishioner and building
committee member Ed Rieker believes that the windows represent
the parish’s devotion to the Rosary, which began even before the
parish was started.
"A group of us had been praying [for a
new parish] at least once a week before the Tabernacle at
another parish in North Platte," he recalled. "All 15 decades of
The weekly Rosary has continued on
Monday nights ever since. Also, the parish gathers to pray the
Rosary before every Sunday Mass.
"I would say Our Lady has had some
definite impact on our parish," Mr. Rieker speculated.
There is much excitement within the
parish as finishing touches are put in place before the
dedication. Everything from the installation of the Romanesque
altar, the renovation of statues and fine-tuning the sound
system is one step closer to completing this long awaited
"Wherever you look, you see
expressions of our faith, images of our faith," said Father
Seiker. "It’s an invitation to anybody to come and pray."
"It’s the handiwork of God and His
benevolence and His fidelity and love for His people," said Mr.
For more information about the dedication Mass and the
banquet that will follow, please call the parish at